Does Prayer Work?

I have been wondering as to how effective, if at all, prayer can be. I know alot of people use prayer as a means to communicate with God but I never understood why some say “I’ll pray for you” or they will pray for someone when they are sick even though I have not heard nor seen the ill being healed by prayer, so what is the point of praying other than as a means of communication?

P.s. I notice how alot of people will say that prayer is just a placebo, which makes me wonder as to why placebo seems to carry a negative reputation with it when brought up along with the mention of prayer?

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Blessings by Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Laura Story - Blessings - YouTube

With lyrics:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XQan9L3yXjc

Don’t forget the objective evidence.

It’s a highly therapeutic activity. Psychologically, personal and group and therefore psychopharmacologically. Just because it cannot possibly suspend the laws of physics on up doesn’t invalidate it in the slightest. Atheists do it.

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I think that prayer works but the problem is often the expectations of prayer.

Many confuses prayer with laying on of hands. Ten apostles and those they laid their hands on had a miraculous power at their whim. We read stories of tons of people being healed instantly in the Bible by the laying on of hands. Even Peter’s shadow was passing over people and healing them instantly. All of these things were part of the signs and wonders of the apostles and those they laid hands on to jumpstart the church in Jerusalem for the Jews, Samaria for the Samaritans and later on for the gentiles. None of that was prayer. Thst was power of the Holy Spirit.

We also see examples such as the guy asking Jesus to his daughter. All of these was direct requests to Jesus while he was in earth and is not the same thing as prayer.

We also see examples of things like Moses and the sea being parted and all the curses and ect… none of that was prayer either.

When we see prayer in the Bible it often a seems to being used in much less spectacular ways even if it’s just as important. We read of praying for those in need and then we see people living it out.
Such as if you see homeless man freezing to death and starving you can’t just pray that god warms him up and make him feel full. You had to feed and clothe them. ( James 2 ) when someone in your congregation has the church to pray because they are about to be evicted you can’t just leave it at that. The congregation comes together to have solutions. Maybe enough money can be gathered to lay the bill. Maybe instead someone has a place to rent for half the price or maybe someone has a spare room for free for a few months. Maybe someone owns a business or knows a place that is hiring at a much higher wage , or more hours.

I’m not 100% certain what all prayer is suppose to do. But I know it does not erase accountability and effort and that god is not a genie to answer selfish requests. Can it sometimes? Sure. But that’s outlier events. I could pray to win the lottery, pray for my moms cancer to just magically go away or pray for my cats to somehow live 70 years and none of that is probably going to happen even if I fasted myself to death adorned for hours without ceasing and had 200 others join.

I believe prayer is a good thing to do, but determining whether it “works” depends quite a bit on what one’s definition of “works” is. Doing scientific studies on prayer seems like a waste of time to me. I don’t see how you could possibly have a control group containing someone or something that is not being prayed for, because there’s no way to determine that.

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I am quite certain that “works” and “effectiveness” are the wrong words to use for or ask of prayer.

If you are looking for something you can use and control then prayer is not it.

Prayer is about having a relationship with a God who will not be manipulated or controlled.

But if you are ready to surrender control and seek help, especially in changing yourself then prayer is a good thing. God will listen and God will decide. And maybe He will decide that the psychological effect of praying is enough and all that you really need. The psychological benefits are real enough. And maybe it will help to see when God has answered your prayer in the way He chooses to do so.

And maybe when you are too focused on effectiveness, control, managing, manipulating, etc… the surrender to God in prayer is exactly what you really need.

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There is no statistical evidence of supernatural healing whatsoever. Not the whisper of the hint of a ripple of a shadow of a doubt. No ‘control’ is necessary.

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.
Proverbs 16:33

There is a podcast episode on prayer. I think you might find it interesting!

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“Does prayer work?” is directly analogous to asking “Does talking to your father work?” That would depend on almost innumerably many factors, by far and away the most important being your relationship with him, or ‘connection’ to him, as the podcast that Hillary @HRankin so appropriately linked said.
 
It also appropriately mentioned the petitioner’s ‘age’:

…sort of like approaching God the way a little pre-school child might a parent. It’s not that the pre-school child needs to inform the parent of its needs that the parent doesn’t already know, because the parent is benevolent and deeply loves and cares about the child. But the parent still wants the child to communicate and to share whatever is on its heart. And that’s what I’m doing when I’m praying. But I view God as sort of like, to me, like a parent is to a toddler.

You can easily imagine that prayer ‘works better’ if the petitioner is more like the toddler than analogous to a rebellious teenager or jaded adult.
 
It’s not for nothing that Jesus says,

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.
 
Mark 10:14-15

Sure it works - depending on where you set your expectations.

It always ‘works’ if your expectation is zero.

Sometimes you get fun surprises though.

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Prayer is not a magical incantation for getting what you want.

Now @Dale , you know I’m not so cynical. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

My expectation for prayer are well above zero. They just aren’t quite the same as yours.

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I’ve always liked this joke. Prayer works like this.

You can sit around all day watching Netflix and eating boiled peanuts and drinking extra sweet tea and pray to God that you’ll still get fitter and stronger and it won’t ever help. But you can do the same thing and pray to God that you’ll keep gaining weight and wearing bigger pants and not a season will go by without his blessing xd.

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